Former First Deputy Speaker
Ex-Chairman of the Democratic Party
Since December 2017, Vladimir Plahotniuc is Chairman of the Democratic Party (PDM). He is considered to be the wealthiest businessman in the country, but his net worth estimates range from several hundread million to over a billion USD.
Vladimir Plahotniuc was born on New Year’s Day 1966 in central Moldova. He holds several degrees, including an MBA from the Technical University of Moldova (2002) and a bachelor of law degree from the University of European Studies of Moldova (2006).
While his business career has been long, two of Plahotniuc’s most important business ventures were as an executive with Petrom Moldova (a Romanian-owned oil and gas producer) from 2001 to 2011 and as Chairman of Victoriabank (the country’s leading commercial bank) from 2006 to 2011. Additionally, Plahotniuc owns Moldova’s two largest television broadcasters, Prime and Publika.TV, but at least another three TV stations and a half dozen websites are associated with his General Media Group.
In 2009, Plahotniuc, erstwhile member of the PCRM team, joined Marian Lupu in defecting to the Democratic Party. At first, he merely supported the party financially in the same manner he had supported the PCRM. Then, he was elected to parliament in late 2010. He became first deputy speaker, but then resigned when faced with an imminent dismissal at the height of the Huntingate scandal, only to leave Parliament altogether in October 2013.
Critics accuse Plahotniuc of corruption on a grand scale, and of using his connections with Voronin and the communist party to enrich himself in the 2000s. Critics say that he now employs the tremendous resources under his control to further grow his fortune and strengthen his political position. Nevertheless, no substantial evidence of criminality has ever been presented against Plahotniuc.
It is not clear whether Plahotniuc aspires to higher political office. However, his current wealth, position, and influence with Moldova’s business, media, and government make Plahotniuc a major, perhaps the chief, “decision maker” in Moldova. Immediately after the Strelet government confirmation vote on July 30, 2015 Plahotniuc left parliament for the second time, citing personal reasons. Whereas, following Filat’s arrest on October 15, 2015, Plahotniuc announced that he suspended his membership in the Democratic party. This, however, does not undermine his position as “chief decision maker”, to the contrary, following Filat’s arrest, he becomes the only major powerhouse in the country.
On 24 December 2016, Plahotniuc became chairman of the Democratic Party, but he had been calling the shots in the party from the time he joined back in 2010. On 6 March 2017, Plahotniuc introduced a controversial bill to change the electoral system so that members of Parliament would be elected in single member districts in a first past the post system. Independent experts view this move as an attempt to hold onto power, since the Democratic Party stand little chance of passing the parliamentary threshold under the current proportional system. On 7 April 2017, Ukrainian and Moldovan police announced the that they had thwarted a plot to assassinate Plahotniuc. Yet, the media show that followed the news, including generous surveillance and arrest footage of the alleged would be assassins planning their attack by drawing their plans with the finger in the mud in a Chisinau park, lead many to question the official story. Instead, many believe Plahotniuc staged the assassination to gain public sympathy.